By Olasunkanmi Akoni
As part of efforts to step up public awareness about the Coronavirus, code-named, “COVID-19” and how the disease could be reduced to the barest minimum, the Lagos State Government, through the Ministry of Home Affairs, has engaged religious leaders in a sensitization session on necessary precautionary measures that should be embraced to remain healthy.
The Commissioner for Home Affairs, Anofi Elegushi, while addressing the religious leaders, appealed to them to educate their congregations with the right information by underscoring the reality and severity of the disease while also allaying palpable fears from the discovery of the disease.
He explained that the state government was exploring every available avenue to sensitize members of the public on public hygiene and other necessary measures that would help nip the disease in the bud.
According to him, different segments of the society have already been sensitized while some others would still be sensitized and enlightened about what is needed to be done in order to avoid contracting the virus.
“This discussion and sensitisation could not have come at a better time than this and as a responsible and responsive government, it behoves on us to bring our Religious Leaders up to speed on the unwanted disease that is subtly creeping into the state, the Corona Virus.”
While saying that, “A stitch in time saves nine”, Elegushi maintained that the disease must be contained before it becomes endemic in our state, adding that it must be kept at bay before it wrecks havoc on the residents.
He recalled that religious colourations and sentiments have been introduced to this health issue since its discovery, stressing that the religious leaders must be engaged to set the record straight.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Mrs. Adebunmi Adekanye stated that knowledge of the causes, effect, prevention and possible treatment from experts who are drawn from various government agencies in the state was key in reducing the spread of the disease.
The State Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Lagos State Chapter, Apostle Alexander Bamgbola described the engagement as timely, saying that the spiritual leaders need to sensitize their followers from a very informed point of view.
He said; “We need to get back to our places of worship to educate our people because the virus had already destroyed the economy of some nations of the world, we really need to rise up and prayerfully tackle this virus.
Also speaking, the Secretary-General of Conference of Islamic Organisation, CIO, Engr. Imam Balogun Luqman expressed the hope that the enlightenment session would go a long way in reducing the incidence.
One of the resource persons at the event, Dr. Bankole Akinwale who is also the Manager of the Lagos State Biobank Centre, explained that the virus depletes the immunity level of its host to multiply, adding that the Coronavirus emanates from the animal habitat just like the Ebola virus and Lassa fever. He attributed the scourge of the disease to urbanization which makes the animal virus spread to the human space.
Akinwale revealed that the Lagos State Government as a responsible and a responsive government has set modalities in motion to combat the spread of the disease through the establishment of the Emergency Operation Center that ensures that health personnel are placed at the airports, border crossings and other entry points into the State to tackle any incidence of the virus headlong.
He noted that the State is the first in Nigeria and indeed in Africa to set up a Biosafety and Biosecurity facility for diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
Another Speaker, Dr. Ismail Abdulsalam, a director of Epidemiology, Biosafety and Global Health from the Lagos State Ministry of Health enthused that the State is fully prepared for the incidence as diagnosis and research parameter of preventive measures that will lead to local discovery of a potent solution is in gear.
He said” the State Government is proactive in mitigating the disease and any other infectious disease with it short, medium and long term solutions, all residents must cultivate the habit of personal and environmental hygiene by observing regular hand-washing habit and proper disposal of refuse.”
The event was graced by religious leaders from the Christian and Muslim communities, among whom were the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Professor (Apostle) Alexander Bamgbola, the Grand Chief Imam of Lagos Central Mosque, His Eminence, Sheikh Suleman Abou-Nolla represented by Sheikh Gafar Mofesaye, other Christian and Muslim leaders from the five divisions of the State.